About half a year ago, SEC released an investigative report concluding that DAO Tokens were securities. Since then there have been a number of high profile cases reinforcing this classification world-wide - UIP, LLToken, CCC, and HMS had to issue refunds to the ICO purchasers in China, Protostarr closed up shop, REcoin and DRC World were charged with fraud and so on.
About half a year ago, SEC released an investigative report concluding that DAO Tokens were securities. Since then there have been a number of high profile cases reinforcing this classification world-wide – UIP, LLToken, CCC, and HMS had to issue refunds to the ICO purchasers in China, Protostarr closed up shop, REcoin and DRC World were charged with fraud and so on.
On one hand, the future of ICOs may be looking grim, with the law enforcement making it harder for various projects to raise money by issuing tokens. On the other hand, the new classification of (some) ICOs as securities might be one of the best things that have happened in the space lately. We might be on the brink of a new wave of ICOs, and here is why…
Long-term bitcoiners might start to see some pattern in history. Early on, we had the pioneering invention that was Bitcoin. After a few years, it became somewhat successful, earning its early adopters some hefty amount of money. We then saw a few other projects pop up saying "I too would like some money". We then saw first a trickle of new coins appearing, altering the Bitcoin codebase slightly, and then an entire wave of thousands of altcoins doing the same, tweaking the parameters and claiming they are better than Bitcoin, therefore they should get the money Bitcoin gets.
We then saw a new wave come in. Coins that were generally not mined, but created and pre-sold to raise the money the team needed to build their product. Mastercoin, Ethereum, etc. Soon after, once a few high-profile projects have made bank, we saw a repeat of what happened before – a large influx of projects also doing an ICO in a "me too" mentality.
It is rather likely that the next wave of altcoins / ICOs will follow the same trends – starting with a trickle of trail-blazers, following with a wave of followers.
ICO Securities and the next wave
For a while now, you could see a number of ICOs skirting the line of being a security or a utility token. Perhaps giving a wink to their pre-purchasers – "of course you should not expect a profit, but you know we’re just like that other ICO that made such great ROI. We’re not promising ours will do the same, but you know…". Maybe they tacked on some functionality to have an excuse to call themselves a utility token – "this token will be used to pay for ads to display to our users. It only has a utility value of those ads. You should definitely not speculate on the token representing a share in the platform we’re building" or something like that.
Now, with the SEC report, it seems that some ICO projects are taking things a bit more seriously. The grey area between a utility and a security token has become less of a safe harbour. We can expect ICOs to take a firmer stance on what they are. On one hand, we will have token ICOs staying far away from being a security to avoid the extra compliance burden associated with that, but on the other hand, we will see some new ICOs emerge – ICOs that fully embrace being a security and go all-out.
If you’re already aiming to be a security and do all of the due diligence associated with it, you could drop the song and dance of utility from your token. We might see tokens that represent shares in a company, tokens that represent rights to dividends and so on, rather than trying to pretend they are tied to some specific functionality of a utility token.
More importantly, by embracing the due diligence of being a security, those tokens might attract the more traditional investors. Companies could do ICOs instead of IPOs, raise money through token presales rather than seed rounds and so on.
This might be the next big wave of ICOs – ICO securities. We will probably see first trailblazers like impak Coin soon, and we can expect the wave to come soon after. We might see a number of people trying to get rich quick, but hopefully we will also see some true innovators creating something new we haven’t seen before in the crypto space. I have a few ideas of my own of what those might be, but one shouldn’t give away the billion dollar ideas too quickly ;).
In the past, we have seen a wave of altcoins and a wave of ICOs sweep into the crypto world. Due to the recent SEC report, we might soon see a new wave of ICO securities repeat the same cycle, hopefully bringing in a wave of new kinds of investors into the space.
Piotr Piasecki is a master of science and a double bachelor in the field of computer science and informatics. He is currently Decentralization Manager at iComply Investor Services Inc.